MINISTER for Investment Lord Grimstone has visited leading bus manufacturer Wrightbus just days after the Northern Ireland firm announced a third major deal in a month.
During his visit, the Minister and colleagues from the Department for International Trade, were able to see first-hand the technologies behind the company’s groundbreaking zero-emission buses and hear all about the benefits for the Northern Ireland economy.
The Minister’s visit followed Monday’s announcement that the Ballymena-based firm has signed a deal to build an initial 120 buses for the Republic of Ireland’s National Transport Authority (NTA). The 120 buses are part of a framework agreement which provides for the procurement of up to 800 zero-emission battery-electric buses over a period of five years.
Certified as the world’s most efficient double-decker battery electric buses – Streetdeck Electroliner BEVs – will be manufactured and assembled at the Wrightbus facility in Ballymena and will be the first battery-electric double-deck buses to be added to the national bus fleet in the Republic of Ireland. Their addition will deliver a significant uplift in the proportion of low- or zero-emission buses within that fleet.
Last month Wrightbus announced major deals with Australia’s leading bus body manufacturer Volgren and German Bus operator Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK).
Neil Collins, Managing Director of Wrightbus, said: “The timing of Lord Grimstone’s visit, coming hot on the heels of Monday’s announcement and on the back of two significant international deals, could not have been better.
“We were able to discuss with the Minister our forthcoming investment and job creation plans in both hydrogen and electric vehicle technology and how we are taking steps to support a UK supply chain. We also discussed our ambition to be at the centre of delivering more sustainable modes of transport in our cities and towns, as well as other areas around the world.”
Following the visit, Lord Grimstone said: “I’m delighted to see Wrightbus continuing their export ambitions through securing a major deal to sell ground-breaking zero-emission buses in Australia. The Ballymena-based firm’s buses will soon be the first of their kind built in Australia. “
“Wrightbus’s partnership with leading Australian bus manufacturer Volgren is a prime example of how Northern Ireland businesses can benefit from the UK-Australia trade deal, which will slash tariffs on bus parts and reduce tariffs on electric vehicles to 0%.
“It’s trade deals like this that will supercharge future investments and give companies in Northern Ireland unprecedented access to new markets, creating jobs, boosting wages and growing the economy.”